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July 17, 2014
A village in Guatemala will have safe drinking water thanks to a class gift from graduating seniors in the East Carolina University College of Nursing.
Students raised $5,000 to pay for the construction of a well through Living Water International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing clean drinking water to those in need.
According to the group's website, 884 million people or about one in eight worldwide do not have access to safe water. Approximately 5,000 children die daily from diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation, resulting in 1.8 million deaths each year. Providing safe water and hygiene education reduces the number of deaths caused by diarrheal diseases by 65 percent, according to the World Health Organization.
Each year, seniors get to decide where to focus the class gift. This year, the students chose an international effort for the first time. The gift will be presented during convocation on Saturday at Wright Auditorium.
"Our class really wants to leave behind a legacy at the College of Nursing for decades to come. What better way to do this than by providing an example of nursing students reaching out internationally to help those most in need?" said Kaitlyn Whitlock of Charlotte, president of the spring 2011 class. "I think it's really special and signifies how we feel about our role."
Other officers helping to raise funds were vice president Rachel Steeb of Mooresville, secretary Paige Ray of Tabor City, treasurer Natalie Tyson of Greenville, and historian Logan Monroe of Robbins.
The effort extended beyond class members, as staff, faculty and family members gave too. Students raised money in a variety of ways including selling Valentine?s care packages to parents to send to their nursing student.
"It was such a widespread contribution because of the global impact," said Dr. Kim Larson, assistant professor of nursing, who for the past few summers has led a study abroad class to Guatemala where students have seen needs up close by working in health clinics, schools and nutrition centers in the Mayan community.
Larson and nine undergraduate nursing students, and two psychology, two biology and four public health graduate students will be leaving May 22 for Guatemala where they will work until June 10.